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Claudia Imhoff

Welcome to my blog.

This is another means for me to communicate, educate and participate within the Business Intelligence industry. It is a perfect forum for airing opinions, thoughts, vendor and client updates, problems and questions. To maximize the blog's value, it must be a participative venue. This means I will look forward to hearing from you often, since your input is vital to the blog's success. All I ask is that you treat me, the blog, and everyone who uses it with respect.

So...check it out every week to see what is new and exciting in our ever changing BI world.

About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants ( You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

Editor's Note:
More articles and resources are available in Claudia's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in Business News Category

Must be nice to wanted -- at least Mark Papermaster must be feeling the -- um -- love from his former and current employers. A federal judge ordered the former IBM executive recently hired by Apple to stop working for that company. I guess the big question remains... WHY?

Last Friday, Judge Kenneth Karas ruled that Mr. Papermaster must "immediately cease his employment with Apple until further notice". Sheesh, the guy was only on the job as Apple's new VP of devices hardware engineering since last Tuesday.

A bit of background -- IBM sued Papermaster (I never tire of that guy's name) on October 22 2008, claiming that he had signed a non-competition agreement in 2006 that prevented him from working for competitors for one year after leaving IBM. So -- since when is Apple a big competitor of IBM's? Sure there is some overlap in the area of servers, PC, and microprocesses. But -- really? I can't wait to see the next generation of Mac commercials. Instead of John Hodgman as a PC, he will morph into a blade server or something. Given what these ads have done to Microsoft, if I were IBM, I would let this one go.

IBM did try to lure Mr. Papermaster back with a heck of deal: a substantial pay raise plus one year's salary if he would just "refrain from working for an IBM competitor for one year". Dude, you must really dislike your old boss to turn that one down.

Apple hired the new guy to run their iPod and iPhone engineering group. Apparently his IBM knowledge of confidential IBM trade secrets will cause IBM "irreparable harm" according the law suit. Off hand, I would say this law suit will cause the company more irreparable harm but what do I know? Maybe IBM is thinking of getting into the music device business -- certainly a bit late to come to that party. Maybe they are creating a mobile device with an earth-shaking interface, fun and innovative applications, remarkable capabilities... Nope too late for that one too.

So, as of Friday, his employment with Apple is on hold at least for a couple of weeks. The judge set up a conference for November 18 so that the two companies can discuss an expedited schedule for discovery and trial.

Stay tuned to find out if the master of engineering can bring that expertise to Apple or not.

Yours in BI success and good luck, Mr. Papermaster!


Technorati Tags: Papermaster, Apple, IBM, Non-competition, Non-compete,

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Posted November 10, 2008 3:26 PM
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Last week, Bill Gates gave what was billed as his last keynote as a full-time Microsoft employee at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He chose not to do a maudlin look backwards at all that he has done since 1975 but rather to look forward to his last day at Microsoft and his predictions of where the tech industry will be in the next decade. It was both a very funny and very poignant keynote...

A large part of his last keynote was dedicated to a video of what his last day at Microsoft would be like. It contained a string of stars and well-known individuals along with a lot of self-deprecating lines from the larger-than-life man himself.

It starts with the news report from Brian Williams about his departure, goes to his work out with Matthew McConaughey, and continues with his "busy" schedule for the rest of the day. There are his attempts at getting a new job with his famous friends (my favorite is the Jon Stewart piece) and finally ends with him cleaning out his desk and driving off in his Ford Focus (with his box of stuff on the top of his car). It is brilliant!

Ah, we will all miss the guy but perhaps none more than the Microsoft employees. But the good news is that he will take over the reins of his charitable foundation ( the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) -- a worthwhile way to continue his contributions to the world.

Yours in BI success,


Posted January 8, 2008 1:59 PM
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Sun Microsystems has decided that its stock ticker for 21 years just doesn't reflect its new face. The company, formerly known as SUNW, now wants to be known as JAVA. Good move or bad?

And here's a quiz for you -- what does SUNW stand for? Think you know? Read on...

Yes -- Sun decided on August 23 that it will change its NASDAQ stock symbol to JAVA to reflect its devotion to the computer language. According to Jonathan Schwartz' blog: "I know that sounds audacious, but wherever I travel in the world, I'm reminded of just how broad the opportunity has become, and how pervasively the technology and brand have been deployed. Java truly is everywhere."

Uh huh...

I highly recommend that you also read through some of the 364 comments (at the time of this blog) on his blog regarding this move. Here are just a few:

"In the minds of many people, Java == slow. With all the recent rebranding, the first thing we always have to do is to convince the customer that no, the desktop window manager is not written in Java, the directory server, etc. etc. is not interpreted and slow."

"What a TERRIBLE idea! When we used "Java" in the name of all our software products a few years ago, customers were confused and frankly just laughed at us-- Java Desktop System was the prime offender, as it mostly uses no Java technology whatsoever. We're still licking our wounds and only just beginning to change the name of JDS now in OpenSolaris. So why use it for a company where most of the staff and products aren't Java-related either?"

"As a Sun investor I see this as a horrible idea. Not many people know that what the W in SUN stands for, and it really doesn't matter. What does matter is JAVA is more of a limiting factor than this illusion of infinite possibilities, Java is only a single platform and not representative of all of your wonderful products. SUNW allows for more possibles instead of being known as only the Java company. This is a sad day. :( "

"What a waste of money. How do all the people you're laying off soon feel about this? How many of their jobs could you have saved, how much security to worried families, with the money this must be costing Sun in admin fees?"


And my own -- for those who may want to buy some of Sun's stock? Do you think they will know that Sun now starts with a "J"? Call me old fashioned but I would think most people would look up a company by some of the letters in its name...

I think I now know what happened to the marketing person who came up with the brilliant idea to get rid of the old Coke flavor -- anyone remember that one?

Now for the answer to my quiz -- SUNW stood for Stanford University Network Workstation -- a respectable albeit academic acronym. What must Scott McNealy think?

Yours in BI and rebranding success,


Technorati Tags: SUNW Sun Microsystems, new ticker symbol, Jonathan Schwartz, rebranding Sun

Posted August 28, 2007 10:56 AM
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Ron Powell (publisher of the B-EYE-Network) sent me an email about a recent survey of 450 Directors of publicly traded companies (with revenues of over $1 billion) conducted by Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Apparently most corporate board members are really good at talking up a good story about how they support aligning IT with the corporate strategies they develop. Unfortunately their actions say otherwise...

Here are some of the key findings from the survey:

1. Ten percent of boards relegate IT matters to a board committee. Geesh -- you mean they don't even talk about these matters in the actual Board meetings? Guess not -- see the next bullet...

2. Only 11 percent of boards even discuss IT at every meeting. Something as critical at IT infrastructure, direction, funding, etc., gets ignored almost 90% of the time?

3. Fourteen percent of the directors say that their boards are "completely and actively involved" in IT strategy. Let's hear it for these intelligent Boards and their repective companies. I wish I knew who they were.

4. At least those that report effectiveness in executing IT strategy admit that it correlates to better financial performance. Perhaps the other 86% of the respondents should sit up and listen.

5. According the the survey, 52% of the respondents say their board will NOT be spending any more time on IT over the next three years than it currently does.

6. Interestingly enough, the results indicated that when the CEO leads the discussion, boards are more involved in IT. The CEO gets it -- even if the rest of the directors don't...

This in the face of overwhelming evidence that there is a significant correlation between the attention paid to IT and corporate performance. Shame, shame!

Kenneth Porrello, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, states "...a gap exists between the emphasis the board appears to place on IT and the steps they are taking to address it. Many directors and senior executives blame this gap on the number of things that have been hitting the board's agenda and a resulting lack of time". Yeah, right -- like excessive executive pay, for example? Maybe investigations into compliance issues?

Mr. Porrello continues "...this excuse is becoming less credible given the growing importance of IT". Yes, indeed, it is important. According to T.K. Kerstetter, President and CEO of Corporate Board Member, " and IT are key business strategies and typically are accompanied by capital budgets reaching as high as a billion dollars in larger companies. The days of not understanding IT in the boardroom are gone, and I expect we will see more CIOs and CTOs invited to serve as board members in the years ahead".

I can only hope his prediction comes true.

Yours in BI (and Board attention) success.


Posted April 8, 2007 2:19 PM
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Last year was a banner year for software acquisitions with an astounding 1,726 software companies being gobbled up by their bigger brethren. The reasons for the acquisitions seem to fall into two categories -- the acquiring company's desire for growth or new market opportunities. But are these acquisitions good for the software industry?

It seems we are getting down to the "Final Four" -- Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and SAP -- maybe five if you include HP. These companies have been on a shopping spree like you wouldn't believe. Here are some numbers for you:

Oracle has bought 26 companies including the mega-deals for Siebel, PeopleSoft and Retek.

Microsoft gets second prize with 25 acquisitions in the same time including ProClarity and many other little startups that didn't hit the radar.

And then there is IBM with 22 acquired companies including Ascential, FileNet, and Internet Security Systems...

Apparently, software acquisitions dominate all technology sectors by accounting for 40% of the nearly $300 BILLION (yikes!) spent on M & A activities performed last year. There is significant reason to be concerned but also equal reason to celebrate. A recent article in InformationWeek listed the pros and cons of these voracious acquirers:

On the plus side:

1. A small vendors's new owner may invest more in R&D than the smaller company could do
2. The acquirer may give you access to a larger, more knowledgable support team.
3. Certainly acquisition by a deep pockets company can put a struggling software vendor on more solid ground -- financially-speaking -- and allow it to scale its architecture.
4. Large software companies have shifted their focus back to revenue-growth strategies so they are buying companies that either complement their own set or give them access to new areas. Big companies are stretching their winds, metaphorically.

On the negative side:

1. The acquiring company could put a halt to the innovation that you have come to rely on and simply continue to feed off the maintenance fees as long as you are willing to pay them.
2. The acquiring company may take the acquired software in a completely different direction -- one that no longer supports yours.
3. Of course, the 900 pound gorilla is the whole issue of the software's integration with the other bits and pieces of the acquiring company.
4. What about customer support? These are the folks that are often the first to go from the acquired company leaving a customer to feel unloved.

So is it good or bad? And who are the next acquisition targets?

To the good or bad question --

The article notes that it is certainly easier for IT shops to deal with fewer vendors. I admit it is easier to deal with a single vendor than a hundred little vendors. The mandate for many IT shops to run lean and mean has not substantially changed in recent years and working with fewer vendors means spending less time and money managing the relationship. On the other hand, that means the vendor has a lot of leverage regarding license fees, maintenance contract negotiations, etc., over you. If you are Charles Wang (remember him?), you love this model...

It may be good news for small companies who have struggled to get their technologies in the door of major corporations. Many CIOs and IT shops are loathe to stick their necks for new, "unproven" software companies even if their technologies are brilliant. Coming in under the name of a much larger and well-known company just seems to open doors magically. However, IMHO, I must say that I feel this is ultimately detrimental to innovation. CIOs need to take more risks, "show some guts", and stop playing it so safe. (See a related InformationWeek article on this very topic by clicking here. I may talk about their survey in another blog.) CIOs need to look at the needs of the company and determine what is the best solution regardless of software company size. Fortunately the venture capital folks must feel the same way since their investing is on the rise.

Perhaps a bright spot in the innovation landscape is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) area. SAP is certainly betting heavily on innovation coming from its SaaS partners with its NetWeaver and SOA stance. In case you are not familiar with the model, the idea is for SAP to partner with many smaller vendors whose software services are called by MySAP (SAP's new ERP suite). Bill McDermott (CEO of SAP Americas) has a priceless quote regarding this strategy. He states that the acquisition roadmap followed by their arch-competitor, Oracle, is like "a lung-and-heart transplant where ours is plug and play". My,my...

I guess time will tell. Until then, small software companies, look out. If you are leading the pack with your offerings, you better turn around now and then to see whose about to gobble you up!

So who is likely to be a candidate for acquisition in the BI space? My bets are on:

1. Teradata -- with NCR's recent decision to spin off Teradata, a suitor cannot be far behind (Microsoft or SAP, perhaps?) to gobble up Teradata. (By the way, this also makes NCR a target as well).
2. The data warehouse appliance vendors -- Netezza, DATAllegro, GreenPlum, and the newest entrant, InfoBright. Their time has come as well.

So who do you see next on the block? I'll be interested to hear...

Yours in BI success,


Technorati Tags: software acquisition, software consolidation, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, software innovation

Posted January 30, 2007 10:58 AM
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I want Steve Jobs job. He gets to introduce cool new techno-toys to adoring fans at MacWorld. The latest wizardry from the iconoclastic Apple? The iPhone...

Yes, indeed. The long awaited iPhone was introduced today. Well sort of -- the actual iPhone won't be available until this summer but still -- it was a great day for technogeeks.

Here are a few of its features:

The phone is one big rectangular touch screen. All of its functions are activated by touch, but here's the cool factor. When you bring your iPhone close to your face to talk to someone, a proximity sensor will turn off the touch screen so you don't accidentally "face dial". I need something like this for my TV remote -- our cat walks all over it, changing everything...

According to the Apple website, the iPhone is a "phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching." The phone runs the Mac OS X naturally and will also be able to download and play both music and movies - duh -- It's an iPod as well. But its main function, according to Jobs, will be as a phone. Despite all the other bells and whistles, Jobs said the "killer app is making calls." The iPhone will operate on the GSM protocol, but won't have third-generation broadband initially. Never fear -- Jobs promises that 3G capability is coming soon.

The real winner today (besides Apple stockholders -- the stock rose $7.10) is Cingular Wireless. Cingular will be Apple's sole U.S. partner -- you got it -- an exclusive multiyear agreement. Ouch... No other carrier will be able to sell the iPhone through 2009. Happy trails to Cingular!

Now the not-so-good news -- the price tag. There will be 2 models -- a $500 version with 4 gigabytes of memory and a $600 one with 8 gigabytes. OK -- guess I'll wait a bit until the price comes down -- say 2010?

Oh yeah -- one other little tidbit. Apple doesn't own the name iPhone -- Cisco Systems does but probably not for long. The Cisco spokesperson said in a statement obtained by CNN, "Given Apple's numerous requests for permission to use Cisco's iPhone trademark over the past several years and our extensive discussions with them recently, it is our belief that with their announcement today Apple intends to agree to the final documents and public statement that were distributed to them last night and addressed a few remaining items. We expect to receive a signed agreement today."

So, what's your take on this news? Are you already lining up at the Cingular store or will you play "wait and see"? I await your comments.

Yours in BI and cell phone success.


Technorati Tags: Apple, iPhone, MacWorld

Posted January 9, 2007 3:51 PM
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Bill Gates announced yesterday that he will step down as Microsoft's Chief Software Architect in July 2008. His mighty big shoes will be filled by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's current CTO. Sadly it will be the end of an era. Read on to see what's next for the richest man in the world.

Mr. Gates will relinquish his day-to-day role at Microsoft to put his considerable talents into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He states, "With considerable wealth comes great responsibility. Many years ago I made it clear that almost all my wealth would be returned to society". Ah, if only other super-wealthy individuals had his philanthropic leanings -- the world would indeed be a better place.

So what will he do? Mr. Gates will be working side by side with his wife, Melinda, on medical and public health issues -- something the Foundation has always invested in. The Foundation has $29 billion (that billion with a B!) in assets and has been instrumental in fighting AIDS and malaria in Africa since its inception in 2000. Here is a snippet from the Foundation's web site... "Bill and Melinda Gates believe every life has equal value. In 2000, they created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world. There are two simple values that lie at the core of the foundation’s work:

All lives—no matter where they are being led—have equal value.
To whom much has been given, much is expected."

Where does their money go? Here are just a few of the more recent grants:

Jun 6, 2006 CIDA Foundation
$1,499,673 over 3 years to provide a low-cost Bachelor of Business Administration degree to disadvantaged South African students


May 24, 2006 Living Cities Inc. The National Community Development Initiative
$2,000,000 over 18 months to support community development


May 24, 2006 Shorebank Enterprise Group Pacific
$3,300,000 over 1 year to support a septic loan program to benefit low-income people in the Hood Canal watershed area


May 23, 2006 Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
$27,844,078 over 5 years to strengthen the capability of developing countries to reduce cervical cancer incidence and deaths.


May 4, 2006 NewSchools Venture Fund
$29,640,000.00 over 41 months to support work with charter management organizations, and extend the model of scalable high quality schools through the development of hybrid organizations


And on it goes.

So what will happen back on the farm? As mentioned, Ray Ozzie gets Mr. Gates' old title, Craig Mundie becomes the Chief Research and Strategy Officer -- both will start reporting to Steve Ballmer (whose job title does not change) in 2008. Certainly Microsoft is seeing turbulent waters with the delayed Vista project, competitors on all fronts, open source in-roads, and so on. We will all be keeping a close eye on Microsoft's future with the major driver moving onto other pastures...

Yours in BI Success,


Posted June 16, 2006 1:29 PM
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Seems that Carly Fiorina just has a way of attracting an audience no matter what she does. Now 16 months after being fired by HP, she manages to make the headlines one more time -- This time with a book. Read on to get some snippets from her memoir, titled "Tough Choices"...

According to the Business Week article, she started her speech by stating "I'm now an author and did in fact write every word of this book". That may sounds strange but there are many, many "tell all" books supposedly written by famous people that are ghost written by unsung writers. Refreshing that she writes her own stuff.

Her stated purpose for the book? First to demystify business -- to show "how people actually behave, and how a leader can change people's results". Un huh... And second, she wanted to "present a more authentic portrait of herself". Un huh again... Apparently she is not happy with the way the press has described her in the past. Now she has her chance.

So -- what does she have to say? She seemed to claim credit -- at least partially -- for HP's current health by saying that she made the company take the necessary risks to develop a clearer focus on HP's value to its customers. Certainly HP has demonstrated a healthy net income (up 51%) and sales increase for second quarter 2006 (up 4.6%) but it would be nearly impossible to dissect the reasons for the increases -- and especially difficult to lay the credit at actions she took while CEO. But her claim that "We made the necessary changes" would indicate who she thinks is responsible. Perhaps she has been greatly maligned in the press and does deserve at least some of the credit, perhaps not. I certainly can't answer that question. (I welcome your comments on this.)

So what else is in her memoir? Apparently she spends a fair bit of time discussion the challenges that women face in climbing the corporate ladder -- like business lunches arranged by male cohorts at strip clubs... Yeah -- that would make it a bit uncomfortable, seems like, to discuss sales and marketing directions and not just for a young Carly Fiorina...

But the big question revolves around how much does she air dirty laundry at HP. Does she bash her former colleagues? Does she expose the inner workings that spelled her demise there? She gave no indication other than to say that the book spent an appropriate amount of time (percentage-wise) to her life there. According to her, "I didn't write it to settle scores. I have something to say, not something to prove". But she also added that some of her stories "may be difficult for some people to read"....

Hmmm -- I guess we will just have to wait until October, the proposed date of its debut to find out. So -- will you be chomping at the bit to buy the book or will you refuse to add to her sales coffers? Let me know.

As always -- yours in BI success.


Posted June 12, 2006 9:36 AM
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Look out Red Hat -- it appears that Mr. Ellison, Oracle's rock star CEO, may be looking to embed a Linux product into Oracle. Is this good or bad? And who is it good or bad for? According to Matt McKenzie. Editor, Linux Pipeline, a newsletter that I subscribe:

"... this isn't "coopetition," or anything else you can describe with a cutesy moniker -- this is the IT industry's second-richest, and perhaps most ruthless, executive deciding how best to rub out a source of persistent irritation. Assuming Ellison pays attention to his grudge du jour long enough to follow through on his ruminations, the enterprise Linux market a year from now will consist of Oracle -- and three grease spots where Novell, Red Hat, and JBoss were last seen."


Yes, Mr. Ellison does have pretty good reasons for embedding a version of Linux into Oracle's existing software. It all has to do with who owns the stack. And Mr. Ellison wants nothing if not to own the entire stack (based on Linux) and put Microsoft right out of business. IMHO -- that will take some doing. It is certainly no secret that Oracle has been pushing Linux for some time. Why? Well, it does give Oracle users using Microsoft's operating system and applications an alternative stack. Can you see Mr. Ellison drooling yet?

Apparently the acquisition-happy CEO has been casting his eye around to see who he could gobble up to supply the missing pieces in the stack. According to an interview with Financial Times, he has considered purchasing Novell as a quick way to get Oracle's own Linux.

What does this mean to Red Hat? Well, it is not good news, that is for sure. If Oracle does purchase Novell, life becomes suddenly much more difficult for Red Hat – particularly if, as Mr. Ellison stated in the FT article, IBM decided to follow suit - which it most certainly would.

So -- why wouldn't Oracle just buy up Red Hat? According to the man himself in the article: "I don't see how we could possibly buy Red Hat... I'm not going to spend $5 billion, or $6 billion, for something that can just be so completely wiped off the map".

Mr Ellison states that there are two reasons for not buying Red Hat or Novell. The first one (probably the most important one) is price. Apparently open source companies have finally made it into the big league with their price tags. Red Hat’s purchase of JBoss last week was a bit of an eye-opener. By the way, JBoss was a company that Oracle had itself tried to buy.

Mr. Ellison goes on to say in the FT article, “If an open source product gets good enough, we’ll simply take it,” he said. “We can do that, IBM can do that, HP can do that – anyone with a large support organization is free to take that intellectual property and embed it in their own products. You can build a sustainable business [in open source], you just can’t charge a lot for it. There’s brand value – there’s real brand – there’s people, and that’s it." Well, there you have it...

The second reason for not buying a Linux company, according to Mr Ellison, is also quite likely. He believes that as soon as one big company buys a Linux company, all the other big technology vendors would abandon it. “I don’t see how we could possibly buy Red Hat – IBM would just say, ‘Larry, congratulations, we’re going our own way’,” he said.

According to Lisa Vaas, another of my favorite writers, "Novell is too expensive as well. Why pay billions for Novell SUSE Linux when there are much cheaper and more deployed Linux distributions out there, with robust communities in place, to be had for probably what would amount to a few million? Ellison is likely telling us he doesn't have to buy a company with a huge existing open-source presence."

Ari Kaplan, president of the IOUG, stated in a recent conversation with Lisa that Oracle can be trusted not to lock anybody into an Oracle-only setup. "Based on recent history, you can still run PeopleSoft on IBM or other databases," he said.

Ah, I love naivety...

Yours in BI Success,


Posted April 20, 2006 12:20 PM
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When I was a kid at camp one summer, my parents sent me a telegram wishing me a happy birthday [stop] It made me feel important and special [stop] Last week, that staple of America communications quietly went the way of the dinosaur... [full stop]

Yes, it is true. Western Union, which for years brought us news of births, deaths, war, and peace, delivered its last telegram on January 27 -- another victim of changing times. From a peak of 200 million telegrams delivered in 1929, Western Union steadily (and rapidly in its final years) plunged into obscurity, delivering only 20,000 telegrams last year.

What caused this venerable institution's demise? Why, the very thing that is bringing you its news -- the Internet and its associated email service. Certainly, Western Union must have known its telegram days were numbered at least a decade ago -- the writing was on the wall. And it did manage to reinvent itself somewhat by focusing on other ways to use its infrastructure -- concentrating on financial services offerings like money orders, money transfers, prepaid credit cards, etc. The company handles more than 275 million money transfers each year through its more than 271,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories.

But apparently this was not enough to keep it attractive to its parent company, First Data. They announced last week that Western Union's financial services business would be spun off as a separate, independent, publicly traded company. Ouch!

Seems like the original granddaddy of "instant messaging" should have been able to leverage its knowledge of this business and grand name to shift gears toward a newer version of itself. Ah, but it was not to be. I know in my heart of hearts I will miss being able to send my own daughter that well known yellow letter with strips of text glued to it for her birthday...

Yours in BI success,


Posted February 8, 2006 3:37 PM
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